Admin: possible changes to the appearance of the site

I may need to change the WordPress theme that I use for this site.  For some reason quoting material – which I do a lot – does not work very well since I upgraded.  My apologies if there is any oddness while I experiment!

UPDATE: OK, I have reverted.  The same problems appeared in the default WordPress theme.  It seems that WordPress 3.6 is broken.

When you press “quote”, quite often it just inserts a new paragraph.  It often does not unquote a quoted passage.  And so on.  Blockquoting is a fundamental issue, and WordPress have broken it.

Soliciting donations

For some years now I have commissioned translations of previously untranslated texts.  These I make freely available on the web.

A correspondent has suggested that I should make it possible for generous-minded people to contribute.  As an experiment, I’ve added a “Donate” button on the right hand side.

Not quite sure how I feel about this, but if you would like to contribute, feel free to click the button.

At the moment we have a number of translations going forward.  Ephraem Syrus, Hymns against heresies 23 and 24 are in the works.  I have today commissioned a translation of “February” from John the Lydian’s, De mensibus book 4.  Just so that you know where funds go!

3rd British Patristics Conference in Durham in September 2010

A correspondant asks me whether I am going to the British Patristics Conference.  I hadn’t even heard of it, although a google search reveals that an email with a call for papers must have gone out in January.  The website does not reveal who is organising it, but makes a link to the “Second National Conference” apparently held in Cambridge last year.

The conference will be at St. Johns College in Durham, which is quite a way from Oxford and Cambridge, the traditional seats of patristics in the UK.  But the college website suggests that free parking will be available — essential –, and the prices for attendance and accomodation seem reasonable. 

Of course it will cost a delegate something to drive 300 miles each way, and not merely in terms of petrol, but in flesh and blood and stress!  Thirteen years of neglect and a winter of ice have left the roads in disrepair.  But perhaps we should make the effort.  Northern scholars have to make those journeys, after all; and really it is good to see patristics moving outside of Oxbridge.  The concentration on the latter is probably not good for us, nor for Oxbridge.  Oxford are going to charge a fortune for next year’s International Patristics Conference, and Cambridge last year refused to provide parking for proles like me; because they felt they could. 

I’ve emailed for some more details. I am tempted to attend, even if it means time off work (and therefore loss of income). 

There will be some publishers there as well. I won’t be giving a paper (deadline for abstracts is 30th May, apparently).  There’s no real indication of the program, but that’s understandable at this stage.  Durham in September might be quite pleasant.  Registration is at 13:00 on Wednesday 1st September, concluding on Friday 3rd at 13:00.   So there is only one full day of sessions, plus two half days.  That sounds about right.  A week of them, at Oxford, can be too much.

An Irenaeus at Lulu

A group of post-graduate theology students wrote to me as follow:

I wonder if you might put in a good word for our new publication, in a single volume, of the complete English text of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies.

The text is freshly re-typeset, but retains the complete translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers series, modified only to remove some of the controversialist footnotes and elucidations inserted by the american Bishop Coxe.

The book is available at  (softcover) and  (hardcover).

We would appreciate a mention on your site, both for our own exposure to a greater market and to the greater utility of your readers. We created this book to provide for a need among students of the Fathers, and we hope that we will be successful.

Many books cannot sensibly be read online.  Naturally I wish them success in this venture.

2011 Patristics Conference, Oxford

The 16th International Patristics Conference (for summer 2011) is now putting out invitations for papers.  The infinitely smarter-looking web site is here.

The conference takes place in Oxford.  The days are filled with papers, each of 15 minutes.  There is a book display by publishers, often with very good deals.  Accomodation is available (at a fairly substantial charge) in an Oxford college.  I tend to stay in my old college instead.

I’ve been to the last couple, although only for a day or two.  If you are an academic, especially one starting out, you need to go for the networking and career opportunities.  For amateurs it is quite optional.  I suspect I will book, but go for only a day or two.

UPDATE: The registration fee for the conference this time is £180.  That’s a lot.  It doesn’t include any accomodation either, which this year is at £50 or 70 a night for a room with only a sink.  I don’t recall what the fee was in 2007, but nothing like that, surely?  Oh dear…  For that fee alone you could spend a week in Egypt, including air-flights. 

It also doesn’t include any car parking — in Soviet Oxford, only the commissars get free parking.

I suppose most attendees will get all these fees paid by their employers — i.e. by the taxpayer.  But it is a bit disturbing to see prices so high.  I know that these conferences have to pay their way, and indeed are a substantial source of profit to the colleges.  It’s still sad, tho.

Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, vol. 2 now on

A customer for my CDROM of the Fathers wrote to ask if I had a PDF of vol. 2 of Cyril’s Commentary on John, since I had scanned it for my site.  Luckily for him I had the chance to look, and found the images first shot.

I’ve now uploaded a searchable PDF of this volume to  It’s here:

(Or will be in a few minutes)

This was the final volume in the Oxford Movement Library of the Fathers series of translations.  The series began in 1838.  By 1880 E.B.Pusey was dead, and the movement was history.  Yet, somehow, this one last volume appeared, in 1885.  It wasn’t published by Parker of Oxford, and it wasn’t edited by Pusey; but the title-page was uniform with it.  The last few volumes were unnumbered.

By this time the Ante-Nicene Fathers series was 20 years old.  Most collections of the Library of the Fathers were obsolete.  Very few of them indeed ever acquired this last, final volume.  I obtained this one through the courtesy of Glasgow University Library, who benevolently photocopied it and posted it to me.  May their name be ever remembered; for I doubt any other copy of this very, very uncommon book, is ever likely to get scanned.

Volume 1 of the Commentary contained books 1-5.  It was translated by Phillip E. Pusey, the crippled son of old Pusey, who predeceased his father.  P.E.Pusey edited Cyril’s works, and his editions still have value.  But as a translator he was useless, tending to transliterate the Greek.  A vicious review, which I have never been able to locate, halted his efforts and he never proceeded further with Cyril on John.  The otherwise unknown T. Randell did this volume, and made a nice job of it.  It’s far easier to read than vol. 1!  It covers books 6-12, although some of those books are lost and only catena fragments were available.

There’s quite a lot of Orthodox interest in this text.  Let’s hope this helps make it more available. 


John Damascene: “On the Orthodox Faith”

Juvenaly has written to tell me that he is producing a revised and improved version of John Damascene’s work “On the orthodox faith.”  About half of the work has been revised so far.  It can be found here

In the past he has been working on revising the dreadful English version of Cyril of Alexandria’s “Commentary on John”, but apparently this is on hold at the moment.  No wonder; the translation by Phillip Pusey is more like a ‘crib’, and the size of the work would daunt anyone.

He has also produced an updated version of the 1920 translation of the “Mystical Theology” of Dionysius the Areopagite, revising the language to make it intelligible in modern English.  It is here